Top Five questions facing Rangers ahead of Old Firm showdown

Ian Black, courtesy of RFC

It will be three weeks since Rangers have played a full match ahead of the epic showdown with Celtic, which has added a great deal of mystery over what to expect from Kenny McDowall’s struggling side.  In case you have forgotten, Rangers have lost three of its past six matches & were outscored 9-2 in those defeats.  So what pending issues must McDowall decide upon if they are to have any chance of pulling off an upset victory in the revival of the Old Firm.

1.  Ian Black or Kyle Hutton?

Black has not played for Rangers in 2015 & has not seen the pitch since his embarrassing outing in the 4-0 loss to Hibs at the end of December.  The former Hearts midfielder has struggled for much of the season & seemed to pick up needless bookings in the biggest matches.  Rangers have played Hibs & Hearts five times this season – Black has been booked in four of those games.  Given his experience – over 200 appearances in the SPL – you would think he would be relied upon to take on Celtic.  However, the likelihood of him losing his cool in the frantic environment of an Old Firm match may be too much for McDowall to risk.

Kyle Hutton has actually looked quite competent as a replacement for Black.  Defensively he has matched Black’s efforts, minus the unnecessary baggage that Black brings to a game.  Additionally, Hutton has asserted himself as a vocal leader in the midfield & has not been afraid to call out even his more veteran peers in the squad.  But, is he ready for such a big game?  Is competency good enough?

Cammy Bell, courtesy of RFC

2.  Will we see the return of Cammy Bell to the lineup?

Bell returned to training last week & could make his return to the lineup on Sunday.  He has not played since injuring his shoulder in August & has only made three appearances this season.  While he is not the most domineering figure in penalty area, his shot-stopping ability is on a different level then his replacement – Steve Simonsen.  Simonsen & the Rangers defence has been chaotic of late.  After a solid start to the season, allowing only 12 goals in 18 matches – Simonsen has let in 12 goals in the past 8 games.  He hasn’t gotten much help, but it is also very difficult to remove the image of his flub against Dundee United last season & feel comfort knowing he is in goal vs. Celtic.

Kris Boyd & Nicky Clark, courtesy of RFC

3.  Who starts up front?

Rangers most productive forward in Championship football this season will not be starting on Sunday.  That’s a given.  Calum Gallagher has scored 0.58 goals per 90 minutes this season during his loan period with Cowdenbeath.  He’s also averaged 0.23 assists per 90 – meaning he was directly involved in a goal scored in nearly every match he played this season.  For Rangers, only Nicky Clark &, to a lesser extent, Jon Daly has come close to that kind of production this season.

Even though, Kris Boyd goal scoring has been putrid (0.15 goals per 90) he actually leads the team in assists per 90 minutes.  Most of that production came while lined up with Clark.  Boyd’s experience in Old Firm matches & the fact that he is beyond overdue to score, makes him worth a shot in the lineup.  If Rangers are going to get a goal on Sunday, it’s most likely going to come on the counter-attack & Boyd has been prone to breaking free on one-v-one battles with the goalie this season &…at some point he has to put one past the keeper.

Nicky Clark’s production & quickness begs for him to be included in the lineup.  Kenny Miller’s vast experience & knack for huge goals makes him a deserved starter.  It’s a radical idea, but what if Rangers lined up Miller as an attacking midfielder just behind the forwards.  He played that role at times with the Vancouver Whitecaps & it would certainly catch the opposition by surprise.  It’s not going to happen – but it would be an opportunity to diversify a predictable lineup.

Lee Wallace, courtesy of Action Images

4.  Which Rangers players have the capacity to seize the moment & become the hero?

In recent times, players like Maurice Edu, Sone Aluko, & Lee Wallace have etched their place in Rangers folklore with clutch goals that propelled Rangers to victory.  Who in this Rangers lineup can step up & score that epic, timely goal?  Nicky Law?  Darren McGregor? Jon Daly?  David Templeton?

The current squad of players has done very little of late to win over the support of fans.  That could change on Sunday but it’s going to take a level of bravery & commitment that has been vacant of late.

The sad part of the build-up to the Old Firm is the fact that a player like Lewis Macleod never got the chance to test his mettle on such a stage.

It is difficult to truly evaluate a player’s legacy at Ibrox without including his play in the derby matches…

courtesy of Getty Images

5. How bad is it going to be?

With a lame-duck manager, a corrupt board & gutless performances from most of the playing squad of late – it is difficult to envision things going well in the first Old Firm match since 2012.  The team is going to have to put 10 men behind the ball & survive the pure chaos that will ensue, especially in the opening moments of the game.  We all know that an early goal will send the match spiraling into calamity & may be further reminder of how poorly the team has been ensembled since the last time the two sides met.


14 thoughts on “Top Five questions facing Rangers ahead of Old Firm showdown

  1. Personally i’d flood the midfield with a 4-1-4-1 system. I’d have Jig in front of the back four, made up of Foster, McGregor, Zaliukas and Wallace. Bell in goals and Aird, Hutton, Law and Templeton ahead of McCulloch, with Miller being the lone man up top.


  2. Bell
    Faure ( Longshot but he deserves something )
    Jig ( Playing just in front of the back 4)
    Miller ( As the post states just above the midfield and behind the Strikers )

    although i would love to see this kind of set up lets be realistic, its not gonna happen, no doubt some brass neck formation with shaggy on the left wing and black trying to be the pirlo of blind football ( the one with bells attached to them so they chase the noise)
    2 things that is putting the shitters up me is
    1. Mohsni ( please tell me his mob are world beaters in the african cup of nations so the guy isn’t in the country never mind the squad )
    2. Black, ohh blackky blacky blackdiddy black black, needs no explanation, i wouldn’t trust him painting my living room never mind trying to take on c*ltic
    3. Simo – why the fuck did we resign this guy, its like locking a rapist out your house then giving him the keys through the letterbox

    apart from that yeahh i think we could keep it respectable


  3. Sevco like Oldco have the usual advantage of being able to field 14 players, try 1-9-1 formation and then use the guys dressed in all black on the wings to get you a penalty or 3 and along with the guy dressed in all black in the middle of the pitch he can always assist with a couple of sending off as per usual, so really there’s nothing to worry about.. HA HA, HA HA, HA HA HA HA HA HA!!! 6-0 CELTIC


      1. Have the 240 creditors been paid yet….. Of course they haven’t because your a new club with 2 years history and have never even scored a goal against CELTIC, Mike Ashley owns you, and he going tae bleed you sevco tramps dry..HAIL HAIL


  4. If we have a chance of causing an upset then Rangers have to change our formation and tactics and include one or two players even I don’t really rate to have a chance. I believe if we attack then im afraid we will be beaten and if we sit back for 90 mins we won’t hold out that im sure of. so how do we set up the right way and what can we do to cause “Them” problems. for me we must start with a 3-5-2. our defense at times is poor and for me to supplement that I would add in another defender to shore things up. I would use two wing backs to get up and down the pitch for at least 90 mins and they will be vital in giving Rangers an edge going forward. in midfield we have to be solid and break up play but we must when we have the ball get forward and attack “Them” at every opportunity as they can be got that. this is an average team were facing and we should hold no fear in getting forward when we have the chance. upfront we need pace and someone who can link up with our frontman. so for Sundays match and a long hard think about team selection I have went for this.

    Simonsen GK)
    Zaliukas (CB)
    McCulloch (CB)
    McGregor (CB)
    Foster (RWB)
    Shiels (CM)
    Black (DM)
    Law (CM)
    Wallace (LWB)
    Clark (ST)
    Miller (ST)


  5. So the newco Govan Tramps are bricking it knowing fine well their going tae get SKELPED on a monumental scale come Sunday, your team of has beens and nobodies will be embarrassed by the CHAMPIONS OF SCOTLAND, know your place, and stay there, pay your debts and admit your a newco and then every body can move on..HAIL HAIL, 127 YEARS OF UNBROKEN HISTORY🍀


    1. companies house would beg to differ, your company that broke in 94 only has £2 in cash reserve and assets worth £50,000
      a quick google search would prove this 😉


  6. Going back to the original post … unfortunately can`t see any way Bell will be risked having not played a game and the same goes for Zaliukas .There was a development game on Tuesday and neither of them played so they can`t be fit .
    I don`t think we should be parking the bus but I would be tempted to play Black alongside Hutton to free up Law to get forward .It would be a gamble because of his attitude at times but I have seen him play well against us and them , so we know he can play, if only he can behave .Assuming Smith plays wide left and we won`t risk any youngsters , its got to be Daly and Miller up front although I would be tempted to try Clark with one or the other .Boyd was never a factor in Old Firm games before , so why would he be any good now .Temps frustrates me as this should be the kind of game he would turn it on , but I think he will have to settle for impact sub.
    Come on The Gers ……lets have a right good go.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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